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Sen. Chris Murphy to Doubters: Green New Deal 'Absolutely Realistic' and the Kind of Plan Needed to Avert Climate Disaster


I’ll be dead and gone, but I’m absolutely confident in 5 feet by 2120. The antarctic ice sheets are melting much faster than previously thought and global emissions are tracking to increase over the next decade.

And while I don’t disagree with KC’s assessment of how paltry the political will is to make the drastic changes necessary to curtail worst case scenarios, if someone doesn’t start talking in terms of dire urgency, then they are failing future generations: AO-C needs to up her rhetoric in that regard.


For the record, my argument isn’t that we shouldn’t do a Green New Deal (or whatever slogan covers a host of climate policies), it’s that we shouldn’t be pushing fantasy deadlines that will lead to disappointment and excoriation of “leadership” when the problem is far more multifaceted. See my comments above for some concrete examples of what I’m talking about. This is where I part ways from AOC: Kennedy spoke with scientists about a moonshot before announcing it. Dr. Wernher von Braun told him it was possible to get to the moon given the trajectory of rocket technology at the time in the early 60s. Most scientists do not think we can zero carbon the economy in ten years though, which is why California’s goal is for 50% renewables by 2025 (on track) and 60% by 2030, and neutral by 2045. That, of course, is power generation, not transportation, which accounts for 40% of GHG emissions in the state. And transportation is a whole different ballgame.


I wish AOC and other progressives wouldn’t use the Moon example as a reason for optimism (I realize you brought it up in terms of getting scientific opinion). The big flaw for that example is it is a small financial drain for a big financial power. There were scientific problems to be solved for sure, but we also threw money at the problem. We are much more limited in throwing money at this problem because the problem is systemic, not something that can be worked on by a relatively small agency. We need to move forward, but it isn’t like going to the Moon at all.

On the other hand, I think the WWII analogy of making a crap load of military aircraft, and other weapons which clearly took over much of the economy is a valid example. Getting everyone to think of climate change as that much of a threat isn’t going to be easy (unfortunately it will get easier the bigger the hole gets dug).


The problem with your stance is simply that it in defending the leaders you venerate from excoriation, you advocate for the ‘go slow’ approach that clearly hasn’t worked and which has us on the brink of disaster.

It’s about urgency, KC. I agree with you that building the public will to go big on mitigating emissions is an incredibly heavy lift. But we part company on demanding that our leaders get super seriously busy on sounding the most blaring of alarms. Shit is about to get real – hell, it’s too late already.


The thing is, I’m in California where we have year-round fires now and politicians do take global warming seriously, it is urgent. It’s why a Republican governor signed a cap and trade bill (AB 32) while the rest of his party started saying it was a myth. The problem to me is in hyping ludicrous nonsense, like zero carboning in ten years. It makes us look stupid because it is stupid and to me, stupid shouldn’t be the new metric for “leadership.” It’s also a rabbit hole of phony virtuism when knowledgeable people say, “hey, we are still basing freeway construction on congestion metrics,” and the response is “you don’t care enough and hate the Green New Deal so tuck your problem away.” One points to a substantial legal and policy issue that needs to be resolved if we are going to truly reduce a substantial source of GHG emissions, the other is vacuous moralizing and sloganeering.

The above being said, I do appreciate that AOC has brought newfound attention to global warming, it is important.


It’s not ‘stupid’ to start transforming concern about global warming into a concrete action plan, even if the public will has to catch up with the urgency of the situation. Because the public will won’t catch up unless and until it is pushed relentlessly by the likes of AO-C, the Sunrise Movement, and Greta Thurnberg. California, for all its leadership on this issue, is tinkering at the edges, even as it stands to get clobbered even worse than it already has by climate chaos – that’s the point. We will address emissions, it’s only a matter of getting clobbered hard enough to light the fire under our asses. Too bad it’ll have to come to that…


That is true.


Just want to add, to your point, California has done what it has done because you can’t ignore climate change when your state features massive year-round fires. Hell, the new summer normal out here is a blanket of smoke the entire month of August through the first half of September. That’s why a Republican Governor signed a cap and trade bill. When wealthy folks can’t see Lake Tahoe from their multimillion dollar cabins, it’s a problem.


I spend lots of time in California, or I used to before I swore off air travel. You live in the hotbed of car culture. You have a real challenge in that regard. Good ass luck.


We do. But for most of us the temperature range isn’t that extreme so electric cars or plug in hybrids work well. I use about 15 or 20 kWh a day driving and in the short term I don’t have an easy way to reduce that. Unless we got smart driverless minibuses that were all over and you didn’t have to make connections. Many people have something like a 30-45 min commute and public transit turns that into an hour and a half.


This is a side point, but this is why having too many hands in the kitchen can create problems when it comes to legislation:

In addition to the rookie move this is an example of, if interest groups don’t like a negotiated provision, they can kill legislation early by drumming up nonsense, like conservatives are trying to do now. If nursing unions don’t see adequate supports for collective bargaining in single payer, I promise they’ll turn on the provider price control provisions on a dime early. A key piece of California’s single payer bill—really, a campaign vehicle for Ricardo Lara’s statewide run—was the collective bargaining requirement.


Heck, they dump fuel when they are behind schedule. Cant be late even if the wind is blowing against you.


Plug-in vehicles work fine in freezing temps, BTW:


This is obvious if you use a turboprop design over a jet. I looked for plots of speed vs fuel economy of a modern plane like the 787 but I’ve only found qualitative statements like it helps to get to a high altitude for cruising efficiency. Another trade off is the length of the flight with very long flights being very inefficient because of all the fuel you have to carry.

Do you have a plot and a suggested reduction in speed? Or are you only talking about a move to turboprops (about 450 vs 575 mph for a jet).